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Parents as Olympic Coaches

As the 2008 Beijing Olympics continue, some faces are becoming so familiar to the average viewer they know them without an identifying caption: Michael Phelps, Dara Torres, Kobe Bryant, Katie Hoff, LeBron James, Debbie Phelps.

Oh wait, you think to yourself, Michael Phelps has a sister in the Olympics?

No, Debbie Phelps is Michael’s mother, and every time he is in a final, or a semifinal, or a qualifying match, or on a podium, the television cameras inevitably find her, and when they do, the commentator is always there with something along the lines of, “Imagine how proud she is right now. Think of all the sacrifices she made taking him to the pool when he was younger.”

But parents are not only watching from the stands. Some of them are watching from the sidelines, standing alongside their children as they compete, coaching them. There are three such pairs on the US gymnastics team: Nastia Liukin and her father Valeri, Chellsie Memmel with father Andy, and Sasha Arteme coached by his father Vladimir.

Sometimes, the partnership isn’t by design. Liukin only took over after another coach gave his daughter a black eye, and Memmel sought her father’s guidance and expertise after a disappointing season. But whatever the origins, all three Olympians say it benefits them not only as athletes, but as individuals. Because their coaches are also their parents, they can offer more emotional support than a typical unrelated coach, and it also brings parent and child closer together.

Source: Fatherly advice goes a long way via USA Today.

You can read more SciFi Dad at Tales From The Dad Side.

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